DOH experts: Asymptomatic in-bound travelers may be quarantined for 10 days
MANILA, Philippines — Department of Health (DOH) experts said on Wednesday that returning overseas Filipinos could be quarantined for only 10 days as long as they are asymptomatic all the way through.
This was their response to the Department of Labor and Employment’s (DOLE) request for returning old policies where returning Filipinos are tested for COVID-19 as soon as they get to the airport rather than on the fifth day.
“We can shorten the duration of quarantine from 14 days if there are no symptoms to the end of 10 days, basta walang (as long as there are no) symptoms, we can do it 10 days,” infectious disease expert Dr. Edsel Salvaña, a member of the DOH’s technical advisory group, said in a pre-recorded meeting with President Rodrigo Duterte.
“Testing is optional unless somebody is symptomatic. If we’re testing someone who doesn’t have symptoms, it should be done on the seventh day,” he added.
In the same meeting, DOLE Secretary Silvestre Bello III expressed concern over returning Filipinos’ long stay in quarantine facilities, saying this had drained government funds.
Bello said low COVID-19 positivity rates among returning overseas Filipinos are another reason to ease the testing and quarantine protocols.
Even though it could be expensive, Salvaña said it’s best for returning travelers to stay in quarantine facilities.
“If kapos po talaga yung (there’s a lack of) funds for facility-based quarantine, we can do strict LGU quarantine. If we have a setup at home, we can do that. And selective testing as mentioned on the seventh-day po,” Salvaña said.
Dr. Anna Lim Ong, another member of the DOH’s technical advisory group, stressed the need for people to undergo quarantine for a minimum of 10 days to 14 days.
“The recommendation that the TAG worked on as it met prior to this briefing was actually to propose that it’s more critical to focus on quarantine measures because this will ensure that any entry of variants from travelers can be better controlled,” Ong said.
“This is really coming from the fact that tests always have a false negative risk. If we really want to secure our borders, then the only way to go is to implement quarantine strictly and well, preferably for 14 days but at the minimum, at least 10 days,” she added.
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